All safes are created equal, right...not even close. Just because it has a dial on it and steel sides top and bottom, doesn't mean it deserves to be called a safe. Understanding what you are trying to protect and matching that to the appropriate safe is not something you should do on your own unless you have a fair understanding of how safes are designed and rated.
Safes for your home or business make perfect sense. Depending on the situation, some insurance companies may give you a discount on your insurance because you have a safe and are using it. Check with your insurance c
ompany for details. Most people have something of value they want to protect whether it has monetary, legal, sentimental or other value and losing it in a fire or theft would be disastrous. Cash, stock certificates, birth records, family photos, jewelry, guns, rare books or coins, precious metals, collections, relics, wills, pink slips, home loan documents, contracts and so much more all have a place in a safe. Having a safe in the home or business makes it convenient and saves you a trip to the bank to access your safe deposit box. Apartment dwellers should consider purchasing a safe for their valuables. After all, many people have lived in your apartment before you and they still may have keys to your door; its not uncommon. That would make it easy for someone to return when your not home and take what they want. Valuables stored in a safe would help prevent that. You would need to secure the safe to something like the floor or a shelf because if a safe is small and light enough someone can just pick it up and walk out with it.
You may not think you have anything of value but most people have a laptop, camera, personal records, etc. that would be costly to replace. When you move, take the safe with you.
What we advise when choosing a safe size is to take everything you currently want to place in the safe and put it in a pile on the kitchen table. This will give you an idea of the room you'll need in the safe, now times that by 3 and that should get you close to the size that will work for you. Using this method insures there will be room in the safe as you obtain items in the future that you want to keep secure. And It never fails, once you get the safe home you start finding other things to put in it that you had not considered before. The 3x method seems to work well for most.
Types of Safes - Here are some common safes types:
Combination of Burglary & Fire Safe
Gun Safe (Not just for guns anymore. Some opt for a gun safe with a fire lining setup with all shelves to fit their needs)
Under counter Safes
|Not sure what safe is right for you...we can help!|
High Security Safes
Cash Register Tray Safes
Money Management Safes
If you can't find the safe you're looking for consider having the safe custom made. One of the largest safe manufacturers is located right here in Southern California. They can custom design and build a safe to your specifications. Safes are not an impulse purchase, take your time, Identified your needs, understand the choices. I can't say this enough "DO NOT BUY A SAFE ON LOOKS".
Safe Ratings -
most safes have some type of rating for burglary and fire or both. Generally speaking insurance companies set the standard for these ratings as well as Underwriters Laboratories (U.L.) in the U.S. and the Japanese Industrial Standards (J.I.S.) in Japan
. These ratings are based on several factors; thickness of the door, thickness of the body, the time it takes a person to gain access the safe by forced entry, internal temperature of safe in a 2,000 degree fire, 30 foot drop test and the list goes on including a nitroglycerin test. Typically you will see ratings such as "B" "C" "BF" for burglary and for fire it will be in time based on a certain test temperature "30 Minutes" "1 Hour" "2 Hour". A class 350 fire safe means that the safe maintained an internal temperature of less than 350 degrees for a specific time, i.e. 1 hour, 2 hour etc. Look for a safe with a Class 350 for paper, Class 150 for
microfilm, microfiche and photographic film and Class 125 for magnetic media and hard drives. The reason they aim for these numbers is that the contents can be destroyed at above those different temperatures. So if you invest in a fire safe that has a 350 degree temperature rating (Class 350) and you store your papers and computer discs in it, and it goes through a fire your paper will survive but the computer disc will not. Again, know what the safe will be used for before making a purchase, are you protecting against theft or fire or both!
Fire and media safes can get expensive very quickly. If you have a need to protect computer disc and film, consider buying a large class 350 safe and purchase a small media cooler to place inside the class 350 safe. A media cooler will keep its contents to a 125 degree internal temperature. You could also obtain a burglary safe and put the media cooler in it as another option.
Not to complicate matters but if the safe was manufactured in Japan their ratings are based on J.I.S as we mentioned and are different than the U.S. ratings. It could be important for you to have a basic understanding of the ratings as the salesman will be discussing them with you. Whatever you do, "DO NOT BUY A SAFE ON LOOKS" its all about the safe rating and what you're trying to protect and how the safe will be used. Most DIY centers will not be able to help you in this area, go to someone that specializes in selling safes as part of their business. You may find that buying two different types of safes will suite your needs better than one safe trying to do all things. Also be aware that if you drill holes into the bottom of a fire rated safe to bolt it down to the floor, it could void the warranty on the safe. Some manufactures design and test their safe with bolt holes already in the safe, so if you want to bolt down your fire rated safe look for the holes already in the bottom of the safe.
We have only touched on safe ratings. It can be confusing but the intent here is to make you aware that safe rating exists and are important to your selection of a safe. A search on the Internet about safe ratings should provide you with additional information.
- With most safes you will have the option of a few type of locks. The standard dial combination lock is the lock
|Electronic Safe Lock|
most commonly installed on safes from the factory. However that is not your only choice. Gaining in popularity are the electronic safe locks. It's worth taking a look at as they can do many things, including an audit trail. Most of the time these options will be at additional cost. Talk to your security professional to learn what options are available to you.
When selecting a combination for your electronic safe lock, don't use things like birthdays, anniversaries, street address or anything that is connected to you; not even those dates backwards. Its the first thing that gets tried when someone is attempting to gain access to your safe. Now its not likely that a random thief will have access to that information...but other people you know or live with will. Also very important, when setting up or changing the combination on your electronic safe lock a good practice is to "not close the door to test the new combination". Test the combination with the door opened because if something goes wrong and the new combination does not work, at least the safe is opened and the lock can be removed if needed.
A Word About "In-Floor Safes"
|Round floor safes with lift out lids.|
This safe is designed to be installed in the floor. An opening is cut into the floor, a hole is dug into the ground and the safe is set in place with its top flush with the top of the floor and 3 or 4 inches of concrete is filled in around all sides of the safe. This type of safe can be installed in a raised or slab foundation. These safes are not fire proof by designed but incasing them in concrete gives them some
fire proofing ability. If you're going to keep important documents and items that can be destroy by water in the safe first put them into a plastic baggie or Tupperware before placing the item into the safe. The lids of these safe are not watertight so water can leak in from to top. If you were to have a fire the safe could fill up with water from the firefighting efforts destroying the contents of the safes from water damage. The same results could happen from a broken water pipe. Homes with a post-tensioned
cables in the concrete slap foundation
A warning to "not cut into the slab" is
stamped into the concrete and is usually
found in the garage near the front.
normally cannot have this type of safe installed in their home unless the building contractor has prepped and identified an area for a safe to be installed. The reason being is when cutting a hole into the slab to install the safe you run the risk of cutting into one of the post-tension cables running through the slab. This will quickly void any warranty you have on your home regarding the foundation and will compromise the benefits of the post-tensioned slab. Typically these types of slabs are found on homes constructed in a hilly/sloping area or on sandy soil anywhere ground movement is prevalent.
One benefit of a floor safe is that its hidden in the home or business somewhere. If someone were to break in looking for a safe they would spend a considerable amount of time looking for its location. And if they found its location they would need to get it open and that's not going to be easy. Burglars don't have that kind of time, especially if you have an alarm system that is going off.
Floor safes are not convenient, after all you're on your hands and knees in a confined area dialing it open but they're your best choice if you want a concealed safe that's going to be hard to find. A wall safe would be the next best choice. If you'll be entering the safe often you may want to consider other options unless getting on your hands and knees is not going to be a problem for you. Each month the safe should be open just to get a change of fresh air into the safe because moister can build up in it. In addition to the cost of a floor safe you'll need to pay for installation and that's going to be in the neighborhood of $350.00 on up.
You can always give us a call at 714 633-1499 or visit one of our retail locations to learn more about selecting the safe that's right for you.